Drug Possession

Drug Possession

When you leave the house, do you sometimes carry a bottle of the OxyContin that your doctor prescribed for your chronic back pain? If so, then be prepared to prove that you hold a valid prescription, as OxyContin is classified as a controlled substance in New York, and illegal possession can incur life-changing penalties.

Drug possession laws in New York have traditionally been harsh compared to those in other states. When the Rockefeller Drug Laws took effect in 1973, the penalty for selling two ounces or more of certain drugs such as marijuana or heroin was upgraded to a minimum of 15 years in prison. In 1977 the section related to marijuana was repealed, but otherwise, New York retained its reputation as one of the toughest states when it came to drug possession penalties.

New York law recognizes two types of controlled substances:

  •     Illegal drugs: This category covers heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other non-prescription drugs that have a high probability of addiction and abuse.
  •     Prescription medication: Possessing drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin is a criminal offense if you don’t have a legal prescription for them.

All controlled substances are divided into five “Schedules.” Schedule I drugs have no recognized medical purpose and are highly addictive. The remaining four gradually decrease in addiction and abuse potential, and some can have recognized medical uses under certain conditions.

Penalties for possessing drugs that fit into one of these schedules will vary according to the type and amount possessed. Currently, there are six offenses that stem from the possession of controlled substances (excluding marijuana, which has its own categories).

The most severe is a Class A-I felony, which applies if you are arrested with eight or more ounces of narcotic drugs or at least 5,760 milligrams of methadone. A Class A-I felony conviction can send you to prison for at least 15 years, force you to pay a $100,000 fine or both. At the other end of the spectrum is a Class A misdemeanor, which involves a lower amount of controlled substances and/or substances not included in any of the other offense categories.

Although considered less serious than controlled substance possession, marijuana offenses also have six categories. Penalties range from 5 days in jail to 15 years imprisonment with an equally broad range of fines.

If you are arrested for drug possession in New York, then contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. They will investigate the charges against you and look for opportunities to file pretrial motions like the following:

  •     Dismissal of the charges for insufficient evidence
  •     Suppression of evidence gathered as the result of an illegal search and seizure
  •     Exclusion of statements you may have made that violate your Miranda rights

A conviction for possession of a controlled substance in New York can have serious consequences that include a criminal record, potentially losing custody of your children, being ineligible for public housing and loss of certain career prospects. An attorney with experience in handling drug possession cases will mount the best defense possible and increase your chances of putting the experience behind you. Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC if you have been charged with a drug crime for experienced legal representation.